BEST DIVE SHOP Austin's Diving Center 10525 S. Dixie Highway

Miami

305-665-0636 Austin's has several things going for it. The first is longevity. The store opened in 1968 and has remained in essentially the same spot the entire time (the first shop was right next door). The staff is also long-serving. The two managers, Dennis Dasinger and Doug Austin (his name is just coincidentally the same as the store's), have been working at Austin's fifteen and eighteen years respectively. They are in it for the long haul and that means you should trust them on mask and fin selection, what spear gun is best for what types of fish, and whether the new regulators are worth all that money. "I'd rather see you come back year after year, rather than sell you something expensive that you don't need," Dasinger says. Austin's also has an extensive inventory. "Our philosophy is if we don't have it, we can't sell it."

Readers´ Choice: Underwater Unlimited

BEST FLEA MARKET Flea Market USA 3015 NW 79th Street

Miami

305-836-3677 Located in the heart of Liberty City, Flea Market USA is the bargain mecca for people who earn money through the underground economy or want to look ghetto fabulous. Inside several makeshift barbershops and unisex salons men and boys sit patiently in swivel chairs as stylists weave their long, unruly Afros into intricate cornrows. Young women dressed in shorts and tube tops and donned in gold bling get their nails painted. Dozens of booths sell marked-down name-brand sneakers, clothes, car and home electronics, and jewelry. Tough-looking guys and girls line up at tattoo parlors for ink. Flea Market USA is also one of the few places in Miami-Dade where dope dealers can buy the specialty materials for making crack. Some might find this place exotic, but for us it's essential.

BEST FLORIST Ruben's Flowers 3248 Bird Avenue

Coconut Grove Ruben's flower stand was last year's winner in this category; it deserves the honor again. In the face of construction, invading millionaires, increased non-flower-buying traffic, annoying self-righteous neighborhood activists, and an ambulance which arrived not to transport a patient but to crash into Ruben's display of Easter baskets, the gentlemen of Ruben's Flowers remain unfazed and constant. The flowers themselves -- from as far away as Ecuador and Holland and as close as South Miami-Dade's Glaser Farms -- are inexpensive and uniformly fresh and beautiful, but it is the Ruben's duo who are dewy. Hiring homeless people to do small chores for food, cash, and shelter from the sun or rain for a few hours, watching neighborhood children get off the bus and walk home from school (and keeping a vigilant eye on neighborhood houses) and beginning each day with a lusty chorus of day-ohs, Ruben's Flowers is a strictly cash, old-school business. To their extra added credit this year, they have remained neutral in the heated Home Depot debate, allowing naysayers to hang signs in their yard and pro-Depot militants to deposit heaps of the same signs collected from various Grove locations in their trash.

Readers´ Choice: Pistils & Petals

BEST FURNITURE STORE FOR CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS

Details at Home

BEST FURNITURE STORE FOR CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS Details at Home 1711 Alton Road

Miami Beach

305-531-1325 In 1988, when Perry Tortorelli and Rick Raphael opened their home furniture and design store, South Beach was not quite the glamorous destination it is today. The first incarnation of their store reflected the vibe of the era. "It was on Twelfth Street, near the Marlin, and it was only 500 square feet. I was actually sewing sundresses in the back," Tortorelli laughs. "We were selling incense, director's chairs, handmade clothes, and the cheapest stuff, because the Beach was really bad back then." The little business thrived mainly because of the design savvy of the owners, but thanks in part lie with their celebrity connections. Raphael was Gloria Estefan's traveling hairstylist in the heyday of the Miami Sound Machine, and Tortorelli made his name in advertising and the fashion industry. As South Beach became bigger and hotter, these business pioneers shifted gears. In 1994 the store moved to Lincoln Road and Tortorelli began interior designing for famous people. One of his first jobs was for retired MTV founder Les Garland. Other customers: Rosie O'Donnell, Lenny Kravitz, and shoe designer Donald Pliner (a beloved regular). Tortorelli: "Gianni Versace used to buy Rococo mirrors like they were going out of style. Gloria and Emilio love anything related to Cuban nostalgia. And recently Iggy Pop came in. The guy is such a rebel, it's unbelievable. He bought this really beautiful Italian cowhide dining suite. He just sauntered in, no shirt, cowboy hat, big ol' Bentley convertible outside, and said, öI want that.'" When the Dalai Lama came to Miami, Tortorelli designed his personal spaces. "He wanted coral, and he bought an amazing bronze statue of a horse running," Tortorelli says. At Details' 7000-square-foot space on Alton Road, high rollers can plunk down credit cards for high-end furniture, like a 1948 Eames La Chaise ($6200). But plebeians can also pick up chic (but affordable) items like scented candles, soaps, or a Burmese hand fan ($18). Part gift shop, part furniture store, Details has something for just about everyone.

BEST GAY GIFT SHOP Lambda Passages 7545 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-754-6900 The problem with finding a good gay gift shop in Miami is that most of them have packed up and moved north to Broward. There are gay-owned shops lacking a worthwhile selection of gay merchandise, and straight-owned gay sex-toy shops, but not much in between. John Drew has owned and operated Lambda Passages Bookstore (named "Best Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Bookstore" in 1994) since 1983, and he still has the best selection of books, DVDs, and sexy greeting cards sans some raunchy display of cock rings, anal beads, and such. If you're looking for the naughty bits, there are plenty of tacky shops on the Beach, but if it's literature and friendly service you desire, Mr. Drew will be happy to oblige.

BEST GUITAR STORE MusicTech 4045 SW 96th Avenue

West Miami-Dade

305-554-8818 After a long life as Ed's Guitars, this little shop just off Bird Road has grown accustomed to its much-deserved hosannas. Though not stocked with hundreds of high-end guitars and amplifiers like the giant instrument depots, MusicTech offers a friendly atmosphere, inexpensive repairs, and truly helpful staffers who are willing to tell you if you need to go to Guitar Center to get what you need. Owner Mitch Kopp is always restocking the store with new and used guitars and amps, so you never know when a gem will pop up. Plus, the place is something of a musicians' consortium, with local rock, jazz, and folk artists hanging out and talking music. Kopp also offers guitar lessons and an occasional free show.

BEST GUN SHOP Ace's Indoor Shooting Range and Pro Gun Shop 2105 NW 102nd Place

West Miami-Dade

305-717-3277 Want to try out a Browning 9mm and a Strum-Ruger .357 to see which feels more deadly in your sweaty palm? Feeling belittled but unable to cover the full purchase price on a sweet new Desert Eagle .50-caliber equalizer? Blast away to your heart's content at Ace's indoor range, where you can take the weapon of your choice for a test drive before making that long-term commitment. Ace's selection of new firearms (handguns especially) is better than at most gun shops, with less reliance on used weapons. The sales staff is professional and accustomed to dealing with amateurs. It's also number one with bullets.

BEST HANDMADE CIGARS Padrón Cigars 1575 SW First Street

Miami

305-643-2117

www.padron.com José Orlando Padrón just wanted to continue a grand ancestral tradition of making puros when he uprooted his family from Cuba two years after the revolution. He set up shop in Little Havana in 1964 and fared quite well until 1978, when he joined a group of exiles who went to Cuba to negotiate the release of several thousand political prisoners. Unfortunately, a picture of Padrón giving one of his cigars to the dictator later surfaced in Miami. Affronted exilios (the boys of Omega 7 usually took credit) boycotted his business, defaced his building, and even bombed his factory. Padrón proved more resolute than the pack of cowardly extremists. As of its 40th year, the company had sold nearly 150 million hand-rolled cigars. And these are fine cigars: two dozen lines highly ranked by Cigar Aficionado magazine and other industry experts. (Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon, for example, never goes far without a couple Padróns in his pocket.) The entire process occurs in Nicaragua and Honduras, from the growing to the rolling to the shipping. The "vertical integration" system keeps prices reasonable ($2 to $25).

BEST HEAD SHOP High Tide Tobacco & Gifts 9814 S. Dixie Highway

Miami

305-670-6633 So your dude brings some stuff over, and it's like, way better than usual. Like some crystal-covered, red-haired, sticky-icky purple shit that's so beautiful you almost want to eat it as is. Primo buds like that don't deserve to be burned in a jobbed joint. And that crappy, resin-caked one-hitter you've been carrying around since sophomore year won't cut it either. What's a stoner to do? Blaze a trail to High Tide, the most bountiful tobacco and gift shop in these parts, and turn your puffery into art. Some of the pieces here are absolutely display-worthy. Choose from colorful bongs, bowls, sherlocks, steamrollers, sidecars, hammers, and hookahs, all handcrafted by talented glass blowers. While you're at it, pick up a pack or two of flavored rolling papers from a mind-boggling variety. Check out the usual assortment of T-shirts, posters, stickers, and incense that round out the "and gifts" part. Cruise home with your new glass friend, and burn down some choice hydro in high style.

BEST JUICE BAR Jamba Juice Various locations in Miami-Dade County

305-948-9919 In Miami the ubiquitous cafetería window provides the obvious choice for a quick pick-me-up. It's much easier to find a cafecito in this town than a glass of fresh-squeezed carrot juice. That's why Jamba Juice deserves kudos for offering a healthful alternative to your average sugar-loaded caffeine bomb. It is "corporate," but in terms of convenience (four locations in Miami-Dade County), quality, consistency, and courteous service, it really can't be beat. In addition to smoothies, the menu offers fresh juices such as carrot, orange, orange/carrot, orange/banana, Vibrant-C (a special blend), and matcha green tea (shaken with OJ or soymilk), known for its energizing properties and antioxidants. Jamba also serves up shots of detoxifying wheat grass (grown in South Miami), their version being surprisingly smooth, not bitter. If everyone drank this stuff, Miami would be a better place.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®